About greg

Just another bozo on the bus.

yeah, it did

You know what’s annoying? You probably do, but I’m going to tell you anyway (which is undoubtedly annoying). What’s annoying is folks who ought to know better–and maybe actually do know better–repeating the same stupid shit. They continue to claim to be absolutely shocked at the completely predictable outcome of the US/NATO adventure in Afghanistan.

“It didn’t have to be this way,” they say. And yeah, they have a point–but it’s a very narrow one. The moment the Bush administration decided to step beyond its simple, achievable objective of eliminating the influence and capabilities of the al Qaeda network, they created an inevitable monkeyfuck situation.

It didn’t have to be this way. Yeah, it did–as soon as we decided to ignore 1700 years of history, it had to be this way. When we decided to engage in a conflict against multiple ethnic and tribal cultures we don’t understand, that operate on traditional rules and norms unknown to us, that have values and ethics that are often alien to us, and that have goals that are foreign to us, it had to be this way. We didn’t understand Afghan Rules, and we were too lazy/arrogant to bother to learn about them. I said this back in April, when President Uncle Joe announced the withdrawal date: Forget it Joe, it’s Afghanistan.

It didn’t have to be this way. Yeah, it did–when we implemented a style of combat that was heavily dependent on sophisticated technology and massive firepower in an environment that’s hostile to any machinery more complex than a Toyota pickup and has a mountainous terrain that moderates the effectiveness of firepower. Military tech is great, but that shit is expensive and it breaks. We made it all worse by training the Afghan army to fight an American-style high tech war, then failed to train them to maintain the tech required to support it.

This terrain is fucking nightmare for an invader.

It didn’t have to be this way. Yeah, it really did–when we decided to impose a Western style centralized democracy on a diverse group of tribes and clans that have zero experience with democracy. In fact, many/most of them reject the notion that they all belong to a single nation. They don’t think of themselves primarily as Afghans. The Tajiks speak Farsi and generally identify as Tajiks, not as Afghans; the Balochs speak Balochi and identify by any of dozens of local tribal or clan affiliations, not as Afghans. The same is true of the Uzbeks and the Hazara and the Kyrgyz and all of the other tribal groups. (See the Editorial Note at the end.)

Various ethnic/tribal/clan groups that make up Afghanistan

It didn’t have to be this way. Yeah, it did–when we brought an American football mindset to fight against a fútbol mindset. In football, orders are given by a coach who isn’t on the field of play. Those orders are sent to a single player who relays the commands to the others and controls the ball. The other players each have a specialized skill set and very specific roles to play; they wear complex specialized gear and follow their orders. Most of the players never touch the ball, only a very few can achieve the goal. After each play, the action stops, the team regroups and waits for the next set of orders. In fútbol, the play never stops, the players don’t depend on gear to protect them, the players learn to recognize situations and adapt their play to the immediate situation, they shift roles easily and often as the situation changes, no single player controls the ball, at any given moment any player can assume temporary control, and they’re all capable of scoring. Football is about a rigid centralized command structure, and following strict orders. Fútbol is about decentralized flexibility and quick idiosyncratic responsiveness to changing situations.

It didn’t have to be this way? Yeah, considering all the bad choices we made, it did. It was a monkeyfuck almost from the start.

EDITORIAL NOTE: I’m too lazy to count and categorize the various ethnic and tribal groups that comprise what we like to call Afghanistan, but the CIA collected a list in 2005. Many of these groups speak their own language, have their own unique identity, have their own cultural norms, have their own conflicts/feuds/vendettas with other groups. There is no United States of Afghanistan; anybody who thought we could create one was an idiot.

policy discussion

GOP: BIDEN GAVE AFGHANISTAN TO THE TALIBAN!!!
DEM: He implemented the deal the Trump administration negotiated.
GOP: HE DIDN’T FOLLOW TRUMP’S PLAN!!!
DEM: Trump didn’t have an actual withdrawal plan. He simply said he wanted to withdraw the troops.
GOP: TRUMP HAD A PLAN!!!
DEM: Okay. What was it?
GOP: WITHDRAW OUR TROOPS SAFELY!!!
DEM: That’s not a plan. That’s just a slogan.
GOP: IT’S A PLAN!!!
DEM: I’m not sure you understand the definition of ‘plan’.
GOP: BIDEN WANTS AFGHAN REFUGEES IN AMERICA TO VOTE FOR DEMS!!!
DEM: What?
GOP: SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!!!
DEM: Uh…


GOP: FAKE ELECTION!!! TRUMP WON!!!
DEM: That’s just not true.
GOP: MASK MANDATES ARE OF THE DEVIL!!!
DEM: Maybe you should sit down, have a glass of water, you’ve been under…
GOP: SEND OUR KIDS BACK TO SCHOOL FOR FREEDOM!!!
DEM: …a lot of stress lately. Maybe get some sleep.
GOP: BIDEN IS A BRAINDEAD PEDOPHILE!!! IMPEACH NOW!!!
DEM: Jesus suffering fuck.
GOP: IMMIGRANTS ARE BRINGING COVID TO AMERICA IN GALLON MILK CONTAINERS!!! FOR BIDEN!!!
DEM: Would you please stop shouting?
GOP: YOU’RE CENSORING ME!!! CANCEL CULTURE!!! FREEDOM!!! 5G!!!
DEM: …
GOP: WHERE ARE YOU GOING??? RUN AWAY LITTLE BITCH! PUSSY CUCK LIB!
DEM: …


MEDIA: Democrats refuse to engage in policy discussion; Republicans upset.

mission accomplished

Hey, remember that time we won the war in Afghanistan? No, no…not the one when President George W. Bush hitched a ride on a Lockheed S-3 Viking (and yeah, okay, the S-3 was originally an anti-submarine aircraft…but c’mon, there wasn’t a single successful submarine attack against US forces while Bush was POTUS, so there), landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and almost announced ‘mission accomplished.’ That was the time we won the war in Iraq. (I know, I know…Iraq, Afghanistan, what’s the difference, tomato, tomahto, and all that.) That was in May. Of 2003.

Mission almost accomplished.

Yes, there was a banner that said Mission Accomplished, but that was just a goof by some enthusiastic public relations johnny. Bush never said the mission was accomplished. What he actually said was this:

“[M]ajor combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed…. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done and then we will leave.”

So no, not that time. I’m talking about the time we won the war in Afghanistan, which is a whole nother country than Iraq. I’m talking about the time President Bush (yes, the same guy) flew into Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar and actually said the mission was accomplished.

“America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished…. In Afghanistan, forces directed from here from Qatar, and headquartered in Tampa, you delivered decisive blows against the Taliban and against al Qaeda. And now the people of Afghanistan are free.”

That was back in June. Also of 2003. An entire month after that business on the flight deck of the USS Abe Lincoln. That’s right, it took us a whole nother month to win the war in Afghanistan. Because winning a war in Afghanistan is hard.

Okay, mission accomplished now.

But a war doesn’t just end after you’ve given the ‘thumbs up’ sign. No sir, there’s always a lot of tidying up to do. President Bush continued to tidy up Afghanistan and Iraq for another five years. After which President Obama tidied up for eight years. Then President Comrade Trump tidied up for four years.

Well, not quite four years. On Groundhog Day in 2020 (no, I am NOT making that up) Comrade Trump signed an initial peace treaty with the Taliban. It was formalized on 29 February as the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America (you probably know it as the AfBPtAbtIEoAwinrbtUSasaikatTatUSA treaty).

Now, you may be wondering “What exactly did the Trump administration agree to in the AfBPtAbtIEoAwinrbtUSasaikatTatUSA treaty?” That’s a good question and I’m glad you asked. They agreed to:

  • “Withdraw from Afghanistan all military forces of the United States, its allies, and Coalition partners, including all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting services personnel within fourteen (14) months.”
  • “Up to five thousand (5,000) prisoners of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and up to one thousand (1,000) prisoners of the other side will be released by March 10, 2020.”
  • “[T]he Taliban commits that its released prisoners will be committed to the responsibilities mentioned in this agreement so that they will not pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies…the Taliban will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qa’ida, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.”
  • “The United States and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban seek positive relations with each other and expect that the relations between the United States and the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations will be positive.”

There it is. The US agreed to 1) pull all of its troops out of Afghanistan by April of 2021 and 2) release 5000 Taliban prisoners, and in exchange the Taliban promised 3) those released prisoners would behave themselves and 4) the Taliban wouldn’t attack the US or let terrorist groups in Afghanistan attack the US. And then both sides agree to 5) be BFFs.

Ain’t diplomacy grand?

Okay, maybe there’s still some tidying up to do. But it’s important that we remember to give credit where it’s due. We can thank George W. Bush for winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we can thank Comrade Trump for signing the peace treaty making the US and the Taliban BFFs. But lawdy, now here comes President Uncle Joe Biden trying to grab all the headlines, when all he did was stand around an win an election.

If that isn’t just like a Democrat, then I don’t know what.

burning bed

Yesterday an online acquaintance ‘explained’ to me that the tragedy that’s unfolding in Afghanistan wasn’t actually the fault of President Uncle Joe. It was basically Comrade Trump’s fault, he said, and Uncle Joe had been too focused on taking care of US citizens and so had overlooked what might happened in Afghanistan.

He wasn’t entirely wrong, but he was a LONG LONG way from being right. He’s right that it’s not Biden’s fault that the situation in Afghanistan is fucked up; but Uncle Joe is POTUS, which absolutely makes it his responsibility. Yes, it didn’t help that Trump’s policy in Afghanistan was inconsistent and incoherent. In fact, it’s ridiculous to even call it a ‘policy’; it was a series of reckless impulses, usually implemented through Twitter without consulting the military or his own State Department or…well, anybody. Trump made that unfortunate nation even less stable and more chaotic, but it would be wrong to blame the current calamity entirely on him. President Obama’s handling of Afghanistan was certainly more thoughtful and consistent–well, less inconsistent–but it was still largely ineffective. What’s happening there today isn’t Obama’s fault either.

The blame lies entirely with President George W. Bush. A limited, targeted strike against Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden would have been an appropriate response to the attack of 9/11/2011. But Bush, for personal and political reasons, decided to expand the mission to install a US-friendly president and create a US-style democracy in Afghanistan. And then he decided “Oh, what the hell, let’s do the same thing in Iraq.”

Essentially, Bush shit the bed. He shit the bed in Afghanistan and let the stink spread to Iraq. Obama inherited the bed and the stink, and while he tried to tidy things up, there was no way to get around the fact that there was a pile of shit in the bed and everything stank. When Trump inherited the bed, he sort of randomly smeared the shit around, making a bigger mess, then held his nose and declared he couldn’t smell any stink. He said, “Hey, it’s not my shit and not my bed” and announced the US would be leaving the room. He left the shit-smeared bed and stink for Uncle Joe, who is justifying leaving the room because Trump said that’s what we were going to do.

The Taliban, who’ve lived in the house for centuries, have decided to burn the bed. And everything in it.

Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t Uncle Joe who shit the bed. Right now, the bed is his responsibility. He has a duty–a moral and ethical obligation–to rescue as much as he can before the Taliban completely burns the bed. Here’s another thing: no matter what he does, there’s nothing–nothing at all–Uncle Joe can do to mitigate the reality that the US left a pile of shit in the bed.

it’s going to be awful

It’s going to be awful for women and girls. It’s going to be awful for almost everybody, but the return of a Taliban ‘government’ in Afghanistan is going to be particularly and singularly awful for women and girls. And it’s going to become awful for them really quick. We’ll see a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan before the end of the year.

It was probably inevitable, given that every foreign entity that’s tried to invade/rule Afghanistan has failed. It’s not because the Taliban are a superior military force; it’s because of 1700 years of Pashtunwalie warrior culture and tradition. They know they don’t have to win a war. They just have to keep fighting and eventually their foreign enemies will leave. Five years, ten years, twenty years–doesn’t matter. Ultimately, they’ll get tired and leave.

The problem for women and girls in Afghanistan is that the Pashtunwali culture–the norms and values that makes the men such dedicated warriors–is also deeply misogynistic. We’re talking about a pre-Islamic tribal code of conduct–a way of life that persisted even as Islam became the accepted religion. Regional tribal groups violently resisted any attempt to organize them into a nation. It wasn’t until the 1880s, when Abd al-Raḥmān Khān became the Emir, that Afghanistan had an actual centralized government. It was Abd al-Raḥmān who made Islam the national religion. But it’s important to understand that Islam is layered over Pashtunwali culture–and 1700 years of tradition, that shit’s hard to break.

We’re going to see a return of gender apartheid in Afghanistan (not that it’s ever completely left). Women and girls over eight years old will have their mobility severely restricted; they won’t be allowed in public unless accompanied by a man who is either their husband, a blood relative, or an in-law. In public they’ll be required to wear some form of full-body covering (“the face of a woman is a source of corruption”), and they’ll be required to be quiet or soft-spoken (“no stranger should hear a woman’s voice”). At home, windows at street level will be painted over or screened to prevent women from being visible from the street; women may even be banned from standing on second story balconies. Medical care for women will be sketchy at best; male doctors are generally prevented from treating women patients and women doctors are actively discouraged from practicing medicine. And, of course, women and girls will be discouraged–or actively forbidden–from receiving education. It’s going to be awful for women and girls in so many ways.

I should note that some women freely choose to cover themselves. We see it in Western cultures as well. There are valid reasons for that choice. The problem is never how women choose to dress; the problem is having a patriarchal society deciding how women are allowed to dress.

Let me say it again, because this is something that can’t be glossed over. When the Taliban takes over, it’s going to be completely fucking awful for women and girls in Afghanistan. We have to face that reality, as ugly as it is. But we also have to consider a response. How do you change 1700 years of tradition and culture?

This isn’t about Islam. All religions have conservative branches, and all conservative branches tend to impose restrictions women and girls. The more conservative, the more restrictive. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism–it doesn’t matter. But if we (and by ‘we’ I mean specifically the US and generally all of Western society) want to improve the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan–and if we want that improvement to endure–I believe we have to work within the bounds of organized religion. Sadly, religious change is almost never quick.

First, we need to fund Islamic NGOs to help provide health care for women and girls who live under purdah. But if we want to see systemic improvement in the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan, we need to address issues within religion. I suggest we need to encourage moderate madrassas–to fund and encourage moderate imams to open Islamic schools in Afghanistan in order to teach a slightly less misogynistic form of Islam. As moderate forms of Islam take root, then more liberal, women-centric practices can gradually be introduced. I’m not a fan of incrementalism, but perhaps feminism-creep–a slow, steady expansion of the rights and freedoms of women and girls–is the most practical approach.

The Afghan Girls Robotic Team

I hate saying that. I fucking hate it. I hate it because it means writing off this generation of Afghan girls and women as lost. It means accepting that the lives of the next generation will likely be only somewhat less awful. But looking at the long, bloody history of that region, I can’t think of any other way to begin creating a better life for Afghan women.

I find myself thinking about the Afghan Girls Robotic Team. Seven teen-aged girls from Herat, they developed a solar-powered robot that could help farmers with seeding; in response to the pandemic, they built a prototype ventilator from parts of an old Toyota Corolla. And they did that during a war, under circumstances that were already restrictive to girls. Think what girls like this could do in a society that actively encouraged them. What’s going to happen to them when the Taliban take over?

It’s almost too awful to think about. Which is why we need to think about it.

asshole culture

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had the stomach to delve into the feverish miasma of FreeRepublic, so this morning I decided…wait. Damn it. Okay, sorry, first tangent of the day. Can you actually ‘delve’ into a ‘miasma’?

I mean since the 1600s, ‘miasma’ generally referred to effluvia or foul-smelling vapors that rose from the ground and was considered to be infectious or injurious to health (which is applicable to FreeRepublic). But ‘delve’ comes from the Middle English term delfan, which meant “to dig, turn up with a spade or other tool, excavate.” Can you dig a stink? Not so much. However, I see that modern definitions of ‘delve’ include ‘to search for information’ so I’m going to go with yes, you can delve into this particular miasma.

Sorry. Back to business. FreeRepublic, where Asshole Culture masks itself as patriotism. The first post that caught my eye was about an article in the New York Post, a daily tabloid local to NYC.

“An unvaccinated Virginia man who thought he was ‘invincible’ to COVID-19 is rallying anti-vaxxers to get their shots from his hospital bed, where he is laid up with a dire case of the virus.”

Now, I’m fairly certain that none of the Freep folks who responded to the article actually 1) live in NYC or 2) read the NY Post on a regular basis, or 3) give a rat’s ass about what happens in NYC. But this topic is raw meat for FreeRepublic patriots. And they didn’t disappoint.

  • “People should direct their anger to the culprit…Chiiina.” by HighSierra5 (The only way you know a commie is lying is when they open their pieholes.)
  • “has he received the correct Rx, or is he being used? did he take preventative HCQ, or was that politically not allowed?” by Diogenesis (Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum)
  • “Doesn’t look like any kind of hospital room I’ve ever been in.” by Mathews (It’s all gravy, baby!)
  • “Crisis Actor. Clowns giving money away.” by Cletus.D.Yokel
  • “If you’ve decided not to vax, you really must have Ivermectin or HCQ on hand.” by G Larry (Those destroying the Constitution must demonize those who would defend it.)
  • “I would much rather die from Covid than live with the shot.” by Safrguns
  • “An unvaccinated Virginia man should shut up it’s his business not ours or this could be another Fake” by butlerweave
  • “Put this guy beside one of the people killed or maimed by the shot. And what therapies were used? Ivermectin? HCQ? Anything? No…” by DesertRhino (A coup government may not claim the protection of the same constitution it overthrew. )
  • “Another sick fat dude. Maybe COVID isn’t the problem. When you’re obese, there’s a lot of crap that can kill you…” by Magnatron
  • “Who sticks a damn microphone up to a dying man’s mouth so he can make a PSA? This is as phony as a 6 dollar bill. Looks like that hospital needs to finish up it’s drywall.” by dforest (huh)
  • “If the media wanted, they could print about 12,000 human interest stories how someone got the vaccine, then died.” by Flick Lives (We may or may not have reached herd immunity, but we’ve definitely achieved herd stupidity.)
  • “This is the third story I’ve read this week where a supposed average everyday person is “dying” from COVID and giving us a dire warning of the need to get vaxxed. Funny how all three of these poor souls are overweight/obese and were probably already suffering from one or all of diabetes, heart disease, cirrhosis of the liver, or kidney failure due to their being fat slobs.” by Qui is (Biden spews and Harris swallows)

These folks are why the Tractor Supply Company had to put up signs warning their customers NOT to ingest large animal de-worming chemicals. They’re shining examples of willful stupidity tempered with arrogant unthinking nationalism, completely unfettered by empathy.

Another short tangent. You may have noticed one of the Freep commenters had a tag line that read Tuitio fidei et obsequium pauperum. That’s the motto of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, which back in the 11th century were more commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller. They were a religious military order–crusaders and all that. The motto translates as “defence of the faith and assistance to the poor”.

Asshole culture may not be immune to Covid-19, but they’re certainly immune to irony.

peat moss and mice bones

Yesterday I tossed off a quick post about the Tractor Supply Company feeling the need to put up a sign warning their customers NOT to ingest chemicals designed to prevent worms from inhabiting the intestinal tracts of large farm animals in an effort to somehow save themselves from a virus primarily transmitted through aerosols. I suggested the store take down the sign.

It’s not that I want people to eat or inject Ivermectin. It’s that after we’ve seen more than 600,000 people in the US die from Covid-19, and after we’ve created vaccines specifically designed to prevent Covid infection (or reduce the effects of the virus), and after we’ve made those vaccines free and widely available, we shouldn’t have to be warning people away from other unproven and dangerous alternatives.

Imagine a room in which we’ve set up two tables–one with a vaccine that’s proven effective against the virus and one with a chemical that’s proven effective against intestinal worms in cattle. In that room, we have a person who is entirely free of either the virus or cattle worms, but who is concerned about being infected by the virus. We really shouldn’t have to give that person a lot of directions about which table to visit.

In a comment to yesterday’s post, Chris wrote:

“Take the sign down,” as in, “Sometimes you have to thin the herd”?

I’ve never been a fan of the ‘thinning the herd’ form of Darwinism. That concept inevitably leads to abandoning the weak and infirm alone in the desert, or in the forest, or on ice floes.

The thing is, we’ve made every effort to keep the weak and infirm OFF the ice floes. We’ve made it EASY to keep off the ice floes. We’ve put up ‘Thin Ice’ signs and directed people away from areas where ices flows form. Hell, we’ve even made it harder for ice floes to form, just as a way to keep folks off the damned things.

But there’s a culture out there promoting the idea that there’s no real danger in being on an ice floe. A culture that sometimes even argues ice floes don’t actually exist, that they’re a hoax. A culture that argues that purposely positioning yourself in a place where ice floes will form is somehow courageous; a display of rugged individualism; a method of demonstrating loyalty. They argue that most folks who get trapped on an ice floe are rescued, so it’s not a real problem. There’s a culture out there with leaders who argue that even if ice floes DO exist and ARE actually a threat, the best way to avoid being trapped alone on one is to rely on magical beans or wearing a fetish pouch containing peat moss and mice bones.

Advocates of that culture who find themselves suddenly alone on an ice floe are surprised by their situation. They’re shocked that the moss and mice bones didn’t work.

What happens then? Then all those folks who’ve been working their asses off trying to keep these dolts away from the thin ice have to work their asses off trying to fetch them back from the ice floes.

It’s about eighteen months; we’ve had over 610,000 people die on ice floes in the US. We’ve spent billions of dollars and working hours trying to resolve the ice floe problem. Obviously, we need to continue to help the old and weak and infirm stay away from the thin ice. But I’m weary of trying to stop those folks who deliberately play Ice Floe Roulette.

just take the sign down

Some mornings I just can’t be bothered to care anymore. I know it’s wrong, but Jesus suffering fuck, how far do we have to go to protect people–people who are willfully, deliberately, and aggressively ignorant–from themselves? I’m talking about this thing right here in particular:

The Tractor Supply Company, which is an absolutely great place to buy stuff like rubber boots and rope and stuff to deworm your horses, has found it necessary to put up a sign in the Deworm Your Large Animals aisle telling its customers NOT to use a product designed to treat or prevent parasites in large animals as a prophylactic against Covid-19. I am NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Why did the Tractor Supply Co. feel the need to do this? Because some Trumpist tunaheads don’t want to die from Covid BUT are unwilling to take an effective vaccine because Comrade Trump (who has actually taken the damned vaccine) and his criminal accomplices in the Fuckwit Media have decided its to their political advantage to use a goddamn global pandemic as a wedge issue. These are the same tunaheads who’ll spend hours online poring over conspiracy theories in which the 2020 election was rigged by Nancy Pelosi using Hunter Biden’s laptop to get Italy and China to send cargo planes full of ballots with Uncle Joe’s name on them to be hidden under tables in Arizona BUT who won’t spend two minutes googling Ivermectin to learn that Ivermectin products for large animals are different from Ivermectin products for people.

Tractor Supply Company, do us all a favor. Just take the fucking sign down.